Teaching and Learning Flying - Private Pilot, Single-Engine Airplane

Short Field Takeoff and Climb


    A maximum performance takeoff and climb over a 50 foot obstacle in the shortest possible distance


  • Takeoff hazards
    • Obstructions
      • Visually CLEAR area, final approach path
      • Announce attentions
    • Review takeoff performance - short-field - POH:
        Note weight, speeds, pressure altitude, temp, runway conditions
  • Do not attempt to takeoff under conditions requiring performance beyond the capability of airplane or pilot


  • Private Pilot PTS, IV B
    • Explain elements, including significance of appropriate airspeeds and configurations, emergency procedures, and expected performance for existing conditions
    • Select recommended flap setting
    • Position airplane at beginning of runway, aligned with centerline
    • Smoothly advance throttle to max allowable
    • Maintain directional control on centerline
    • Adjust aileron deflection during acceleration
    • Rotate at recommended airspeed and accelerate to Vx
    • Climb at VX or recommended airspeed +5, -0 knots until obstacle is cleared, or until at least 50 feet above the surface, then accelerate to and maintain VY +/- 5 knots
    • Retract flaps as recommended or at safe altitude
    • Retract gear after positive rate of climb established and safe landing can no longer be made on remaining runway
    • Maintain takeoff power to safe maneuvering altitude
    • Maintain straight track over extended runway centerline
    • Complete after-takeoff checklist
  • Commercial Pilot PTS, IV B, adds:
    • Adjust mixture control as recommended for conditions
    • Review takeoff performance capabilities considering obstructions and conditions
    • Check engine instruments


  • To develop the student's knowledge and skill in planning and performing safe short-field takeoffs and climbs to meet the appropriate practical test standards
  • To provide thorough knowledge of takeoff and climb principles that will help prevent an attempt to takeoff under conditions requiring performance beyond the capability of airplane or pilot


  • Discuss elements of short-field takeoff and climb
      See Normal and Crosswind Takeoff and Climb
  • Review of wind conditions
      Takeoff as directly into wind as possible
  • Demonstrate short-field takeoff and climb
  • Use of wing flaps
    • PA-38-112 (Tomahawk): Short-field: 21°, first notch
    • TR182 (Skylane): Short-field: 20°
    • Visually check flap extension
  • How to position and align airplane for maximum utilization of available takeoff area
    • Extreme end of runway with main gear just beyond threshold
    • Align with centerline
    • Note heading and ground references
  • Initial positioning of flight controls
    • Trim set for takeoff
    • PA-38-112: elevator tab slightly aft of neutral (depends on loading)
    • Ailerons full into any crosswind
  • Power application
    • PA-38-112
      • Fuel selector proper tank, Mix rich, Pump ON, Carb heat OFF
      • Apply full power before brake release
    • TR182
      • Carb heat OFF, Mix RICH, Prop in high RPM
      • Brakes apply and hold
      • Smooth, steady advance throttle to 30-31"MP
      • Release brakes smoothly
    • Keep hand on throttle
  • Directional control during acceleration on the surface
      Control direction with rudder, heels on floor, off brakes
  • Crosswind control technique during acceleration on the surface
    • Gradual reduction of aileron pressure into wind
    • Downwind rudder
  • Lift-off attitude and airspeed
    • Learn attitude by outside references and AI
    • PA-38-112
      • Ease control wheel back to climb attitude at VR = 53 KIAS
      • Maintain 61 KIAS until obstacle cleared, then 70 KIAS
    • TR182
        POH-recommended VR depends on weight
    • Good general approximation
      1. VR = 50 KIAS
      2. VX = 60 KIAS over 50 foot obstacle, then
      3. 70 KIAS
  • Initial climb attitude and airspeed (VX) until obstacle cleared
    • PA-38-112
      1. Maintain VX= 61(+5, -0) KIAS until obstacle cleared, then
      2. VY = 70 KIAS
    • TR182
      1. VX = 60 KIAS over 50 foot obstacle
      2. Brakes apply and gear UP out of runway and over obstacle
      3. 70 KIAS to approx 200 AGL
      4. Flaps up slow and accel to 80 KIAS
      5. Above 500 AGL, 90 KIAS, 25"MP, 2400 RPM, RICH
  • Track during climb
    • Climb out along extended runway centerline
    • In crosswind, sideslip takeoff converted to crab into wind for climbout
  • Use of checklist
    • Pre-takeoff checklist
    • On takeoff note outside references, airspeed, power settings, engine instruments
    • Transition to cruise check
  • Coach student practice
  • Critique student performance


  • Failure to position the airplane for maximum utilization of available takeoff area
      Request use of an overrun area
  • Improper initial positioning of flight controls and wing flaps
  • Improper power application
  • Inappropriate removal of hand from throttle
      For flaps, gear, trim only
  • Poor directional control
  • Improper use of brakes
      Smooth, positive release after maximum allowable power developed
  • Improper pitch attitude during lift-off
    • Trim set
    • Wait for VR
  • Failure to establish and maintain proper climb configuration and airspeed
      Hold pitch to maintain VX +5, -0 KIAS until over obstacle
  • Drift during climb
      Use outside references and HI

Greg Gordon MD, CFII